We’ve heard a lot about the toll that the pandemic took on the live music industry with tours postponed, clubs shut down and careers put on hold.
Among all those things came a whole new experience for Royal Honey in the live realm.
“We did a lot better with a tip jar than I thought,” Eric Rodger reflects. “We had never experienced that. Before, the tip jar was not a Pittsburgh thing.”
The guitarist is talking about the socially distanced gigs the Pittsburgh band was playing at Jergel’s when most of the other clubs were shut down.
“To put it short, we really never stopped,” Rodger says.
They did chill for three or four months in the spring but, by July, Royal Honey was back out there playing gigs with their old friends and former bandmates in The Borstal Boys, even if it did feel like they were playing to the eight people up front.
Prior to the pandemic, the band was putting the finishing touches on “Sweet Heat,” the followup to the 2019 debut “Hype, Money And Misbehavior,” which found Royal Honey rocking in the grinding, trashy vein of the Stones, New York Dolls, AC/DC and their own former bands.
The latter is a very extensive list that includes The Dirty Charms, The Ultimatics, The Cheats, The Addicts, Lize, The Science Fiction Idols, The Cosmosonics, Child of Fire, Kill Bossa, Rainstation Zero and Gas Tiger.
Royal Honey formed in 2018 from the ashes of the Charms and Gas Tiger, with other members going off to the similarly garage-y Borstals. Because guitarist Dave Musick, from Gas Tiger, had a bunch of songs, Royal Honey was able to hit the ground running.
Jump to the second record, recorded at The Vault on Neville Island with producer Bob McCutcheon. With that just about ready to go in March 2020, they had the same dilemma as thousands of other artists.
“There were other bands releasing their stuff during Covid. I just wasn’t into it,” Rodger says. “We had a meeting and said to ourselves, ‘What do we want to do: Do we want to finish this and put it out anyway? Or do we want to sit and actually be able to play a release show?’ And we chose the latter.”
They put some “extra bells and whistles” on it, took their time mixing it and then sent it to Michael Fossenkemper at TurtleTone Studio in New York for mastering.
On Friday, Royal Honey finally plays that release show at the Thunderbird Cafe and Music Hall in Lawrenceville, where guests can pick up a copy of “Sweet Heat,” filled with catchy hard rockers like “Cut N Run,” “Bleedin’ and Dyin’ ” and “Gimme Gimme.”
Along with Bobby C’s vocal roar and the rhythmic drive of bassist Greg Damjanovic and drummer Angelo Amantea, one of Royal Honey’s assets is the guitar harmonies — or guitarmonies — of Musick and Rodger, who was brought in a few months after they formed.
“They wanted one more guitarist to try to get some of that twin Thin Lizzy sound and I had planted the seed,” says Rodger who had been in the ‘90s metal bands Child of Fire and Kick and Grind before taking a break to raise a family.
Royal Honey likes to take it just to the brink of metal before jerking back.
“Ange has never been a metal guy,” Rodger says, “so he’s the first person to be like ‘that’s too metal, that’s too much chuggin’.’ But we sneak it in, Dave and I, and sometimes it gets past him.”
“It really doesn’t happen often, but I know what I want to feel and I try to steer in that direction,” Amantea says. “It’s not like I put my foot down, ’cause we are all on the same page, but I try and make sure the ‘roll’ doesn’t get lost in the rock ‘n’ roll.”
The show is at 7 p.m. with The Cheats, The Borstal Boys, Slam Band and Sam, and Domenic Fusca. Tickets are $15 at https://royalhoney.bpt.me. $20 at the door.